A Cheshire health trust has suspended spinal surgery following the deaths of two patients.

Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said the decision was made after it identified four serious incidents - including the fatalities - involving spinal surgery patients over a six-month period.

It added that "early indications" suggested the deaths were related to medical complications and not the surgery itself.

Professor Simon Constable, the trust's medical director and deputy chief executive, said: "Although these incidents appear very different from each other, as a precautionary measure the trust, working with our commissioners and regulators, has temporarily stopped doing spinal procedures until a full external review has been undertaken.

"The trust and commissioners have invited the Royal College of Surgeons to undertake a comprehensive review of our current spinal services at the beginning of November.

"This will help inform any appropriate actions or decisions regarding the future service provision.

"We understand that this may cause concern for patients on our waiting list or being referred in to our services, and we sincerely apologise for this.

"Patient safety and welfare is our priority and we are in the process of contacting all patients awaiting spinal surgery at Warrington and Halton hospitals to advise them of the options available to them.

"We will do our best to support patients at this time."

Concerned patients can contact the trust's call centre on 01925 662416 and 01925 662335 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm).